Game Regulations 2012
Victoria’s new game hunting regulations
On 11 September 2012, new regulations were introduced to establish the legal requirements for game hunting in Victoria.
The Wildlife (Game) Regulations 2012 will manage game hunting in a way that provides for sustainable, humane and safe hunting opportunities. The new regulations modernise the previous regulations, cut red tape, ensure equitable sharing of game resources and provide opportunities for game-related businesses.
The new regulations build on the Victorian Government’s commitment to provide even better opportunities for Victoria’s 42,000 licensed game hunters to enjoy their recreation and promote the growth of hunting businesses in regional areas across the state.
Victoria has the best game hunting opportunities in Australia. Game deer, duck, quail and other game birds can be hunted at various times throughout the year using a variety of methods.
The Victorian Government encourages people to make the most of Victoria’s opportunities to hunt and enjoy hunting as an activity that forms part of our heritage.
Regulating game hunting in Victoria
Game hunting in Victoria is managed under the Wildlife Act 1975 (the Wildlife Act). The Wildlife Act provides for regulations to be made for the management and conservation of game, the preservation and maintenance of game habitats and the effective management of hunting.
Game hunting in Victoria is regulated to provide sustainable recreational hunting opportunities while ensuring the future of game species, protecting their habitats and ensuring the humane and ethical treatment of game species.
The new Wildlife (Game) Regulations 2012 set out:
- the conditions and restrictions for game hunting in Victoria.
- areas where game hunting is not permitted or is restricted in some way.
- open and close seasons, bag limits, and permitted hunting methods.
- licensing requirements for game hunters, including passing tests, and the tag and checking station requirements for Hog Deer hunters.
- conditions relating to the possession and use of game.
The regulations apply to game hunting wherever it occurs, including private property and Crown land.
Fact sheets and further information on the different changes is available below.
Development of the new regulations
Game Victoria, within DPI, consulted a range of groups, organisations and Government authorities over the way game hunting is regulated.
Draft Wildlife (Game) Regulations 2012 and a Regulatory Impact Statement were released in July 2012 for a widespread public comment period to inform the preparation of the final regulations.
Approximately 500 written submissions were received
All submissions were reviewed and a number of amendments were made to the proposed regulations.
The Wildlife (Game) Regulations 2012 maintain the majority of the arrangements for game hunting that existed under the previous regulations. However, some new and amended regulations have been introduced in the following areas. It is important to note that most of the changes take effect immediately, however, some will not commence until next year.
Changes have been introduced to better facilitate participation in game hunting by junior hunters (aged 12-17 inclusive) and non-residents of Australia. These include:
- exempting juniors from paying a Game Licence fee.
- creating a new ‘Provisional’ Game Licence to allow juniors (12-17 years old) to hunt under adult supervision without sitting the Waterfowl Identification Test or the Hound Hunting Test.
- creating a new 14-day non-resident Game Licence to facilitate game hunting by visitors to Australia.
- creating a new 7-day Game Bird Farm Hunting Licence that will be free of charge.
These new licensing arrangements will commence in July 2013 to allow for the licensing system to be upgraded and other support processes to be put in place.
A number of changes relevant to hunting methods have been made, including:
- revising the minimum specifications for firearms and archery equipment to reflect advances in technology.
- allowing smoothbore firearms for hunting deer as long as they are fitted with appropriate sights.
- allowing the use of blanks to aid in gundog training.
- allowing the use of some electronic devices (e.g. GPS tracking collars for hounds, motorised decoys for duck hunting, electronic game calls).
- updating the non-toxic shot list for duck hunting to reflect advances in technology.
The definition of ‘spotlight’ has also been amended to cater for improvements in lighting technology and to clarify the exemptions for hunters navigating on-foot while in possession of a spotlight and firearm in recognised deer habitat between sunset and sunrise.
Sambar Deer hunting with the use of hounds
A number of changes have been introduced to the way Sambar Deer are hunted with hounds. Key changes include:
- allowing Harriers to be used for hound hunting (effective 1 March 2013).
- prescribing height and breed standards in the regulations.
- allowing up to three pups in training in addition to the existing pack limit of 5 hounds.
- allowing up to two additional junior hunters to hunt without being considered part of the maximum team size of 10
- the start of the hound hunting season has now been set at 1 April each year.
- hounds will only have to be assessed once after 12 months of age and will be registered for life.
- hound identification requirements have been simplified.
Hunting deer (except for Hog Deer) with dogs
A new category of approved ‘deer hunting dogs’ has been introduced to allow dogs other than hounds and gundogs to be used for hunting all game deer species other than Hog Deer. These dogs are mostly terrier breeds.
With the exception of Hog Deer, all deer species may now be hunted with the aid of gundogs and deer hunting dogs throughout the state (this does not apply to hounds). An additional four gundog breeds have been approved for deer hunting. An offence for dogs that maim or attack wildlife has been also been introduced.
In addition to the above, laws have been introduced to:
- extend the Red Deer open season from two months to the whole of the year.
- allow the selling of taxidermied game products.
- remove the requirement to return unused Hog Deer tags.
- include four new gundog breeds for deer and game bird hunting.
Public safety during duck season
Given the risks to public safety by people protesting during the duck hunting season, the periods in which people other than appropriately licensed duck hunters can enter or remain in specified hunting areas has been extended to every day of the duck season. The exclusion period has also slightly changed to two hours prior to sunset until 10:00am the following day.
In addition, the exclusion boundary has been increased from 5 metres from the shoreline to 25 metres. These laws will apply to all Victorian State Game Reserves and 41 other important duck hunting wetlands and will be in place for the start of the 2013 duck season.
The Wildlife (Game) Regulations 2012 are available on the Australasian Legal Information Institute website.